How To Clean Up Lightroom Classic

by Andrew S. Gibson
How To Clean Up Lightroom Classic

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Any photographer who has used Lightroom Classic for a number of years has probably built up a large collection of Develop Presets and plugins. In fact, it’s easy to install so many extras that it’s difficult to remember what you have and find the ones you really want to use! In that case, it’s time to clean up Lightroom Classic. Here are three ideas to get you started.

1. Clean up Lightroom Classic Develop Presets

In newer versions of Lightroom Classic (7.5 onwards) you can manage your Develop Presets by letting Lightroom know which presets you want to see and which ones should be hidden. This is useful if you’ve imported so many presets that it’s hard to find the ones you use regularly (yes, it happens to us all at some point).

Click on the plus icon in the Presets panel (or right-click on a Group) and choose Manage Presets from the menu.

Manage Presets in Lightroom Classic

The Manage Presets window appears (below).

The Manage Presets window

This window lists all the available Develop Presets Groups. If this is the first time you’ve opened the Manage Presets window every Group is checked. Uncheck the Groups you want to hide and click Save. When you return to the Presets panel any unchecked Groups are no longer on display.

Adding Presets to Favorites

Another way of managing your Develop Presets is to mark the ones you use the most as Favorites (right-click the preset and choose Add to Favorites).

Add to favorites

Favorited presets are marked with a white star icon and displayed at the top of the Presets panel under the heading Favorites.

Favorite Develop Presets

You can remove a preset from the list by right-clicking and choosing Remove from Favorites from the menu.

Removing Develop Presets from Lightroom

You can remove presets permanently from Lightroom Classic by deleting them from your hard drive or, perhaps more wisely, moving them to another folder. Moving Develop Presets is the option I’d recommend, especially with paid presets. That way you can add them to Lightroom again if you change your mind.

Go to the Presets tab in Preferences and click the Show Lightroom Develop Presets button.

Lightroom Classic preferences

This takes you to the Settings folder, which contains the .xmp files Lightroom Classic uses for presets. Move any presets you don’t want to appear in Lightroom Classic (not even in the Presets Manager) to another folder for safe-keeping and restart Lightroom. The presets you moved are no longer there.

Get to know your Develop Presets again

If you’ve forgotten what some of your Develop Presets are for, now might be a good time to get to know them again and see if they’re potentially useful. Keep them if they’re useful. If not, consider removing them from Lightroom so they don’t get in your way.

2. Clean up the Edit In menu

As a Lightroom Classic user you can export photos to external editors such as Photoshop, Luminar and ON1 Photo Raw. These options appear in the Edit In menu along links to all the external editors you’ve installed over the years.

Lightroom Classic edit in menu

If your Edit In menu is anything like mine it includes links to expired trials, old versions of currently used applications and applications that you no longer use.

It’s time to clean up. Start by deciding which of the Edit In menu options you want to delete (it might be helpful to make a list). Then decide whether you want to move them one at a time or in bulk.

One at a time

If you don’t have many Edit In presets to delete then you can remove them one at a time. Start by opening Preferences and going to the External Editing tab. Then select the preset you want to remove from the Preset menu under Additional External Editor.

Preset menu

Next, click the Preset menu again and select the Delete Preset…”chosen preset” option.

Deleting presets

Bulk removal

On the other hand if you’ve got lots of Edit In presets to delete you’ll be pleased to learn that there’s a quicker option. Open Preferences again, go to the Presets tab and click the Show All Other Lightroom Presets button.

Lightroom Classic Develop Presets

This action opens a folder called Lightroom. Look for a folder inside called External Editor Presets and open it. It lists all the Edit In menu items. Delete the ones you no longer need (or copy them to another folder just in case). When you restart Lightroom they’ll be gone from the Edit In menu.

Note that this doesn’t remove the applications themselves, only the preset that Lightroom Classic requires to send photos to them.

3. Clean up Lightroom Classic plugins

There are two types of plugin in Lightroom Classic. The first type is external editors like Luminar and Exposure. These are powerful but separate applications that you can send photos to using the Edit In menu.

The second type of plugin is a smaller program that’s added to Lightroom and extends its functionality. Examples include finding duplicate photos or searching using criteria not available in the Filter Bar.

You manage this type of plugin using the Plugin Manager. Many of these plugins are useful, but as they’re so easy to download and install it’s also easy to forget you have them. As a result you may have installed plugins that…

  • Worked in earlier versions of Lightroom, but need upgrading to work in Lightroom Classic.
  • Are limited trial versions, and need registering (and paying for) to unlock their full functionality.
  • You no longer use.

It’s time to sort them out and delete the ones you don’t want to keep.

Start by going to File > Plugin Manager. All your installed plugins are listed on the left (marked below).

Lightroom Classic plugin manager
  • A green circle indicates the plugin is installed and active.
  • A white circle indicates the plugin is installed but disabled, either by the user or because it’s incompatible with Lightroom Classic.
  • A red circle means the plugin is installed but not working.

Decide which plugins to delete

Now it’s time to go through your plugins one by one and decide which ones to delete.

This is also a good time to check which plugins are unregistered, need upgrading, or are trial versions only.

For example, if your plugin is unregistered or needs upgrading for Lightroom Classic you’ll see a message something like the ones below.

Lightroom Classic plugins

Unregistered plugins have limitations that can only be unlocked by making a payment and registering them. If you don’t use the plugin and don’t want to do that, you can delete it by clicking the Remove button at the bottom of the Plugin Manager window.

Some plugins, such as AdobeStock (see below) and Aperture/iPhoto Importer Plugin, were installed by Lightroom Classic and you can’t delete them using the Plugin Manager. But you can delete them manually by clicking the Show in Finder/Explorer button and deleting the file from the folder it’s saved in. Restart Lightroom Classic for the change to take effect.

Lightroom plugins

Some plugins are related to external editors and also can’t be deleted using the Plugin Manager. But you can delete them manually by clicking the Show in Finder/Exploring button and deleting the file.

Deleting Lightroom Classic plugins

Make a list of keyboard shortcuts

Once you’ve decided which plugins you want to keep you should reacquaint yourself with what they do.

It’s a good idea to make a note of any keyboard shortcuts required to activate your plugins. If you keep this list close to hand it acts as a reminder about your plugins and encourages you to use them.

By the way, you can learn more about useful plugins in my ebook Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book One – The Library Module.

Introducing Lightroom Classic ebookThanks for reading. You can get more great articles and tips about Lightroom Classic and photography in my popular Mastering Photography email newsletter. Join today and I’ll send you my ebook Introducing Lightroom Classic and 47 PhotoTips cards. Over 30,000 photographers subscribe. Enter your email now and join us.

Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module ebook

More great Lightroom Classic tips, tricks and tutorials!


Lars F. Dahllöf September 25, 2019 - 10:21 am

Just what I need: A step by step detailed instruction of doing things in Lightroom Classic. Can you give me such a guidance in how to import develop presets into Lightroom Classic latest version?

Andrew S. Gibson September 27, 2019 - 8:00 pm

Hi Lars, yes, you can do it by clicking the plus icon in the Presets panel (Develop module) and choosing Import presets.

George Mitchell September 30, 2019 - 7:50 am

Hi Andrew, brilliant article on clean up of presets! You are absolutely right, they do creep up on you to the point where you wonder where they all came from!

Another great article, many thanks.


Andrew S. Gibson September 30, 2019 - 8:34 am

Thanks George, glad it was helpful!


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